Wednesday, 8 September 2010

"...In 1998 a similar case ripped through the University of Toronto and the affiliated Hospital for Sick Children - only this time, the researcher found the drug might actually be harmful to patients. Dr. Nancy Olivieri, a world-renowed scientist and expert on the blood disorder Thalassemia, entered into a research contract with the drug-company Apotex. The company wanted Olivieri to test the effectiveness of the drug deferiphone on her young patients participating in the trial and to alert other doctors in her field. Apotex pulled the plug on the study and threatened to sue Olivieri if she went public, pointing to an overlooked clause in the research contract that gave it the right to suppress findings for one year after the trials ended. Olivieri went ahead and published in The New England Journal of Medicine and, once again, the administration of both her university failed to defend the sanctity of academic research conducted in the public-interest. Adding further insult, in January 1999, they demoted Olivieri from her top-level research position at the hospital.. (After a long and public battle, the doctor eventually got her job back.)

Perhaps the most chilling of these cases involves an associate professor at Brown University in the Rhode Islandm who worked as an occupational health physician at the University-affiliated Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island in Pawtucket. Dr David Kern was comissioned by a local textile factory to investigate two cases of lung disease that he had treated at the hospital. He found six more cases of the disease in the 150-person plant, a startling occurrence since its incidence in the general population is one in 40,000. Like Dr. Olivieri, Dr. Kern was set to present a paper on his findings when the textile company threatened to sue, citing a clause in the agreement that prevented the publication of "trade secrets". Once Again, the university and the hopsital administration sided squarely with the company, forbidding Dr. Kern to publush his findings and shutting down the one-person clinic where he conducted his research."

- from No Logo by Naomi Klein